Regional Museum and contemporary Český Krumlov through the eyes of Filip Lýsek

Filip Lýsek, director of the Regional Museum in Český KrumlovFilip Lýsek, a native of České Budějovice, has been the director of the Regional Museum in Český Krumlov since 2011. At the beginning of June, when the government's coronavirus measures gradually began to be relaxed, we talked to him about how the locals were now able to once again rediscover the historic centre, in which, despite its incredible historical value, it is not so easy to live. We also marvelled at the uniqueness of the ceramic model of the city, fishing in the centre of Krumlov or the charm of pubs of the fourth category.

Why should visitors go to the Regional Museum during their visit to Krumlov?

There are several reasons. In addition to seasonal exhibitions and events, the traditional attractions are the exceptional exhibits that form the pillar of the permanent exhibition. One of them is a Baroque Jesuit pharmacy, representing a completely preserved set of Baroque work offices from the middle of the 17th Century, of which few have been preserved in the entire Czech Republic. The second highly unique exhibit is a model of the historical core of Český Krumlov, capturing the ideal appearance of the town around 1800. It offers visitors a comprehensive idea of the urban plan and period architecture of the city. At the same time, it provides valuable orientation guidance, as it captures the structure of a largely preserved urban development as well as the overall ratio of distances and the height profile of the city with extraordinary accuracy and plasticity.

Regional Museum in Český KrumlovThat sounds really unique. Is there a similar model elsewhere?

I dare say that you will hardly see a similar exhibit in Europe created from the same material and on a similar scale. The model captures 800 buildings on 56 hectares of the city's monument reserve, registered in 1992 on the UNESCO list. The history of the model began in the 1970s. Authors of the model, Engineer Arch. Petr Pešek and ceramicist Jana Pešková, chose an unusual technological procedure for producing this model and made individual city buildings and terrain sections from coloured fired clay. This is an extremely demanding technique, bringing a number of difficulties, which, however, have been masterfully overcome, and the model is still one of the rightfully prized and widely sought-after museum exhibits.

Its authors had to be really dedicated to their work and hold Krumlov in loving esteem. What is your relationship to the city and its surroundings?

Regional Museum in Český KrumlovI am not a resident of Český Krumlov, but my parents met in Krumlov and also lived there for several years. As a child, I often returned to Český Krumlov with them, and in the Český Krumlov region I later spent a lot of beautiful moments – under a canopy, under a tent or on vacation with my grandparents in the small village of Omlenice near Kaplice. I am therefore very familiar with Krumlov and the landscape of the Blanský Forest. I have always had a lot of good friends here. After graduating from the University of Olomouc, I had the opportunity to return to southern Bohemia and do the work I always wanted. That is, in culture and later in a museum institution, and happily in my native region. So I came back here and I've been working in the museum for 9 years. 

As someone who knows Český Krumlov very well while having had a certain distance from it, can you try to describe exactly where its charm lies?

The magic of Krumlov is not just something you can concretely pinpoint and is shaped by a number of factors. On the one hand, it holds the status of a sought-after tourist destination. The second largest castle and château complex in Bohemia, a compact historical centre with intact monuments. The city itself is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features a varied cultural programme! These are some factual reasons for visiting Krumlov. At the same time, it is true that Krumlov also has a subjective charm connected with the specific spirit of the place, which we, who have been present outside the main tourist season, may have experienced just a little more. Moreover, the measures due to the coronavirus have shown that the deserted Krumlov with closed operations is definitely not losing its charm, quite the contrary.

Regional Museum in Český KrumlovWhat differences do you observe in the city after the corona-crisis and in the behaviour of the Krumlov locals?

It is, of course, a great incentive for the Krumlov locals to return to the city centre. I have noticed that there are now opportunities for smaller and not entirely traditional cultural events, street revitalisation and neighbourhood festivities. The people of Krumlov, who come to our museum, tell us that they are in a way more satisfied, because they can finally come to the centre and walk and experience it in peace.

What is your opinion on the situation that prevailed in Krumlov before the pandemic?

Everyone who deals with destination management or transport in the city is very well aware that it is not possible to overburden the city. I think the absorption capacity of its centre is absolutely crucial. This applies not only to communication routes, but also to the availability of services. Therefore, the city, in my opinion quite logically, decided for the regulation of car traffic in the centre. The regulation of tourist bus parking was introduced with a similar aim. Both measures came relatively recently and, in my opinion, it is still too early to assess the long-term impacts, and data from year-on-year comparisons will be decisive.

What are your favourite places in Český Krumlov?

Filip Lýsek, director of the Regional Museum in Český KrumlovI really like the water and the proximity of the river, so I like to look for places near the meandering Vltava River. As an avid fisherman, I know several quiet places in the relatively busy centre of Krumlov, where fish as well as fishermen thrive. If, on the other hand, I long for society, then – aside from cultural events – I look for rustic environments rich in local customs and atmosphere. So the local pubs and taverns are a logical choice. The systematic research we are working on with friends in this field has already been published. It should be noted that establishments of this type are steadily declining, although some still remain. If you long for the unadulterated atmosphere of a classic establishment, I can recommend, for instance, the legendary Hostinec U Dušků near the Budějovická gate.

That's a pretty bold tip…

Perhaps. (laughter) On the other hand, it should be noted that many cultural events take place in Krumlov every year. There are also a number of museum and exhibition facilities in the city... Just look at what the Český Krumlov Card, which we endorse, offers. This brings me back to our museum, where for a single entrance fee you can not only see an extensive ethnographic exhibition, but also six to eight thematically focused exhibitions each year, often crossing the borders of the region. Both domestic and foreign visitors will enjoy themselves here. In this context, I would like to invite you to two ongoing exhibitions: Movement Is Our Programme, which is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Czech Tourists Club START in Český Krumlov, and to the Known and Unknown exhibition. South Bohemian Architecture of the 20th Century, the aim of which is to draw attention to important buildings built on the territory of southern Bohemia in the last century.

DMO Český Krumlov, z. s.